Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 2015

     What a privilege it was to hear the departing testimonies of these missionaries--front: Elders Lewis & Buchanan, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sis. Peacock, and Elder Andrasko; back: Elders Gamble, Downing, Holtry, Bennett, and Holden.



     We welcomed this outstanding group--front: Sisters Huhem, Hammond, & Zavala, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Elders Meyer, Lloyd, and Palmer; back: Elders Pyper, Mitton, Tripp, Jolley, Lesh, Higginson, Kofford, Fullmer, Payne, and Chugg

     We had zone conferences this month.  We opened by memorizing together our ponderizing verse for the week from Alma 6:6--Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God. Our goals for the conference were to do the following:

· Help missionaries understand what mighty prayer is and choose to use it in their own lives.
· Help missionaries seek, recognize and act on revelation on their mission and throughout their lives.

     Missionaries completed the preparation assignment below and we were taught by the Spirit together.

Dear Elders and Sisters,

     In the last few weeks, as a mission we’ve discovered some of the blessings that can come from mighty prayer.  That’s why I am excited for next week’s zone conference, in which we’ll talk about receiving revelation through prayer—as missionaries, as disciples after our missions, and for our investigators.  We believe that one of the most important keys to being able to fulfill our missionary purpose and mission goal and baptize far more people on a consistent basis is for each missionary to discover the power of mighty prayer and the blessings it can bring, including revelation that can guide you in every aspect of missionary work.

     As always, how much you get out of zone conference will hinge in great part on the faith you exercise in preparing for it.  To prepare, we’re asking you to do several things spread out throughout your week.  Take some time in personal study, companionship study, and in your conversations as you travel and during meals to do these things:

·              Read Chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel.  Choose your favorite three sentences.
          
           Read one of these three talks:
o   Elder Richard G. Scott, “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2007/04/using-the-supernal-gift-of-prayer?lang=eng)
o   Elder David A. Bednar, “Ask in Faith,” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/ask-in-faith?lang=eng )
o   Chauncey Riddle, “Prayer” (Brother Riddle was not a General Authority but a philosophy professor at BYU; some of you will love this one and some of you will . . . not) (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1975/03/prayer?lang=eng )

     In addition to those resources, use the scriptures to prepare a 3-minute talk on one of these three subjects:


  • ·         The Keys to Making Prayers Mighty Instead of Lame
  • ·         Keys to Receiving and Recognizing Answers to Prayer
  • ·         How We Can Use Mighty Prayer to Receive Revelation That Will Help More People Get Baptized in the Lord’s Way

     Finally, take the test on p. 95 of Preach My Gospel.  Use a scale of 1 – 9 to grade yourself on each question, with 1 being fair and 9 being good.  Add your total score and keep it some place.  Be honest and candid in your answers.  We will have you confidentially submit your total score at zone conference for this pre-test about your prayers.  Then, at the end of the transfer I’ll ask you to take the test again and send me both of your scores to see if you improved.

     We look forward to learning with and from you next week!


Sunday, November 1, 2015

October 2015

     We had two mission leadership council meetings this month.  One was in a "place set apart."  We went on a Mt. Rainier hike and discussed prayer, revelation, and the Book of Mormon.  The picture shows--Front: Sisters Sonasi, Wright, Dodson, Halford, Goodman, Baxter, Hill, and Singer; Middle: Pres. Eaton, Elders Noh, Christiansen, Jones, Lewis, Nelson, and Sis. Eaton; Back: Elders Graham, Holtry, Johnson, Willardsen, Downing, Tavo, Brown, Taliauli, Andrasko, Berkheimer, Maekawa, Anderton, and Wagstaff.
video




     Our second leadership council was under the direction of Elder Larry Lawrence of the Seventy. He led the council in outlining steps to achieve a missionwide goal of 40 baptisms during the month of November. He counseled us to pray in every prayer for 40 baptisms during the month of November and to find out what the Lord would have us sacrifice in an effort to reach this goal. In addition, we are ponderizing a scripture together as a mission each week that focuses on the doctrine of Christ.  The picture shows--front: Sisters Goodman, Baxter, Sonasi, Wright, Hill, Sis. & Elder Lawrence, Sisters Singer, Dodson, and Halford; middle: Elders Berkheimer, Nelson, Noh, Tavo, Johnson, Jones, Pres. Eaton, Elders Lewis, Nelson, and Holtry; back: Elders Willardsen, Andrasko, Christiansen, Maekawa, Graham, Anderton, Wagstaff, Taliauli, Brown, and Downing


     During his mission tour, Elder Lawrence taught about increasing our faith (summarize below) and giving our committed investigators intensive care treatment (coming next month).  Sister Lawrence taught about the gathering of the House of Israel.

     Principles of exercising faith:
1) Have a righteous desire/goal that we cannot accomplish on our own
2) Be believing, getting rid of doubt/fear
3) Plead with the Lord in every prayer, over and over again
4) Commit fully to the accomplishment of the goal, being creative to do everything you can
5) Expect trials and obstacles; then double efforts
6) Have faith and expect the Lord will bring this about


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 2015

     These beloved missionaries have returned to their families and the next steps in their salvation--front: Sisters Killingsworth, Collins, Walker, Peterson, & Flamm, Pres. Eaton, Elders Cairo & Warner; back: Elders Goodell, Anderson, Moses, Carson, Jenkins, Lemmon, Walters, Eliason, & Johnson



     We are excited to welcome these missionaries to Washington--front: Sisters Lewis, Skousen, Northrup, Thurman, Livingstone, Woolsey, Richardson, and Yost; middle: Elders Kim, Scheidell, Williams, Jensen, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Elders Stucki, Oliva, Larsen, and Drake; back: Elders Hunter, Jackson, Perkins, Partridge, Boyack, Urey, Dalley, Simpson, Cook, and Miner


The Faith to Fulfill Our Purpose

            In preparation for zone training, Sister Eaton and I have asked you to study the examples of faith you find from great men and women in the scriptures.  Whether you choose to study Abinadi or Abish, Mormon or Mary, Ammon or Abigail, ponder their examples with these questions in mind:  
  •  What evidence do you see of their faith?
  • What can you learn from their example about how to exercise more faith to better fulfill your purpose?
  • How can you be more like them as you strive to help others come unto Christ?

             At the risk of spoiling your own scripture study, let me share three of my favorite examples of faith in the scriptures.  First, I love the faith of Joseph Smith.  He wasn’t cocky, but he was confident in the Lord.  When he prayed, expected stuff to happen.  When he went into the grove of trees to ask God a question, he fully expected to receive an answer.  When he prayed again three years later, he said, “I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one” (Joseph Smith History 1:29).  When he and Oliver Cowdery prayed about baptism, they prayed next to a river.  Because of Joseph’s faith, the veil between heaven and earth was thin.  From his example, I learn to pray with faith, knowing that God is real and that he hears and answers prayers.

            Such faith comes, in part, from recognizing how God has answered our prayers and blessed us in the past.  When young David heard the giant Goliath taunting the armies of Israel, he had no doubt that with God’s help he could beat the giant, because with God’s help he had slain a bear and a lion with his own hands in defense of his sheep.  In fact, he seems to have been a shepherd with a bit of attitude.  When a bear took one of his sheep, he caught the bear from behind and took him down.  Knowing that God helped him in the past gave him faith that God would protect him in the future when he was on the Lord’s errand.  As he explained to King Saul:

Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock:

 And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him.

Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.

            David’s faith was not in his own abilities, but in his God.  So he was unmoved by Goliath’s giant tantrum when the Philistine saw that Israel had sent a mere boy to fight him.  In one of the sweetest bits of inspired trash talking in the history of the world, David responded to Goliath’s taunting with this bold retort:

Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.

            With that, the Philistine giant charged young David, who was armed only with his sling and a few smooth stones.  David could be forgiven if he had dropped back a few steps like a quarterback getting ready to throw as the giant charged him.  To stand his ground calmly and sling his stones would have been remarkable.  But fueled by faith, David did something that was either crazy or evidence of incredible faith: “David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.”  That’s right, David ran toward Goliath, got close enough that his sling would be deadly, and then took down the giant with a single stone:  “David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.”  Game, set, and match—David.  Actually, David would beg to differ.  The battle was not his, he would have said, but the Lord’s.  (Read 1 Samuel 17 for the whole story.)  From David’s example, I learn that when I remember how the Lord has helped me in the past, it builds my faith that he will help me succeed in his work in the future.  And when I remember that the battle is truly the Lord’s, I feel I can do anything as his soldier.

            The final example of faith I will share is of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  These valiant Israelites lived in Babylon as exiles, but through faith, perseverance, and diligence, they prospered.  They gained the trust of King Nebuchadnezzar and eventually were appointed to be governors over a province of Babylon.  Unfortunately, it was there that King Nebuchadnezzar chose to erect a 90-foot golden image.  With all the dignitaries in the land gathered for the dedication ceremony, the king commanded all his subjects to bow down to the image or be thrown into a fiery furnace.

            Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had a choice to make: whether to prolong their political careers and their lives by staying in the good graces of the king, or whether to receive eternal life by staying in the good graces of God.  They chose the real God and refused to bow down. Their act of civil disobedience was not lost on their rivals, who quickly pointed it out to the king.  The king was fond of these young Israelites, so he gave them a second chance and pled with them to bow down to the idol like everyone else.  “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 4:14).

            What is especially impressive about the faith that Shadrach and his friends exercised is that what mattered to them was not whether their God would save them, but whether he could.  In fact, they did not know whether he would save them; God had allowed many righteous prophets to be slain.  But they trusted God for the long term, no matter what the short-term result.  Here is how they answered the king:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

(Daniel 4:17 – 18).  When we talk about but if not faith, this is what we mean.  It is what my daughter exercised when she felt inspired to set high baptismal goals and worked out her heart, knowing God could work mighty miracles, but if not, well, she would have given it her all.  It is the faith to work hard and set goals we care about and serve God whole-heartedly, week after week, even when we are not immediately seeing baptismal fruitFrom Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I learn that great faith requires humble submission and patience, pressing forward and trusting in God with faith in his eternal promises, even if I cannot be sure I’ll get the miracle I pray for in the short run.

            May the Lord bless you as you study your own faith heroes that you will learn, through the Holy Ghost, the principles of faith you most need to help you better fulfill your purpose as a missionary.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 2015

     We had a great Mission Leadership Council this month.  The district leaders were invited to the first half where we studied charity together and discussed how we could develop that gift.  Among other things, we also talked about how an additional part of the missionary purpose for leaders is to help those in their stewardship fulfill their purpose as missionaries.

    (Front:  Sisters Peacock, Sharp, Halford, Flamm, Webb, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sisters Hill, Jeffrey, and Singer; Middle:  Elders Andrasko, Mathews, Johnson, Noh, Graham, Lewis, Jones, and Tavo; Back:  Elders Mousser, Downing, Willardsen, Anderson, Taliauli, Holtry, Maekawa, Anderton, John, and Lemmon)

 Zone Conferences centered on the doctrine of Christ.  We have found that preparation increases learning exponentially, so missionaries received a preparation assignment.  Each missionary studied 2 Nephi 31, chose one of the elements of that doctrine, and prepared a 3 minute talk.  They studied chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel and watched "Your Purpose" from the District training dvds.  They were also invited to ponder, pray about, and discuss these questions:  As the missionary purpose becomes written in your heart, how should that affect every aspect of missionary work?  Which aspects of your own work should it change more than it has, and how?  


     Our mission photographer, Elder Nowlin, has been released so we didn't get pictures at zone conference this time.  We did have one of the sisters in Kent/Renton--Sisters Hill, Lucky, Clement, Bailey, Ripplinger, Cauley, Frischknecht, Dodson, Lyman, Killingsworth, Stewart, Jeffrey, and Eaton.


We said goodbye to these dear missionaries--front: Sister Walker, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Sharp and Ripplinger; back: Elders Mathews & Albrecht, Sisters Ballard, Webb, and Jeffrey.


   


We welcomed 25 new missionaries this month--
Front: Sisters Westover, Beazer, & Gafa, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sisters Herlin, Jorgensen, and Rimer
Middle: Elders Latimer, Fuller, Snook, Wingle, Sullivan, Larsen, Miller, Lowry, Jeong, and Willoughby; Back: Elders Duffin, Healey, Richards, Richards, Davis, Asper, Beaudette, Anderson, and Riley.


Maintaining High Expectations Even When Expectations Aren’t Met

            This month’s newsletter article is written mostly by my daughter Elizabeth Eaton, who served in the Washington Seattle Mission, Russian speaking.  Many of you have heard me say that she was one of the best missionaries I have ever known.  I judge her success not by her number of baptisms, but as the Lord does—by her commitment to find, teach, baptize and retain all those she could.  Indeed, the faith and effort she put forth when she saw little fruit was what was most impressive to me.  Here is what she wrote me recently when I asked her how she managed to keep her faith and intensity up, despite not seeing much in the way of fruit.

______________________________________________________________________________

Sometimes, I experienced days when nobody seemed to listen. Even people on the street would shut us down almost immediately. It was hard to find anyone who would be willing to have a short gospel conversation with us, let alone new investigators or people ready for baptism. This could be very discouraging, especially as we tried to raise our expectations and those expectations weren't always met.

My wonderful companion Sister Bruening thought of something that really helped us stay positive. When lessons were falling through, people were rude, and nobody wanted to listen, she'd say, "Sister Eaton, I am so grateful for today! Today is a gift day."

On days when we saw results, when we had powerful lessons or found awesome new investigators or committed someone to baptism, it was easy to remember the joy of missionary work. We could feel the blessings. But on days when nothing worked, it was a little harder to still be consecrated, to still give the Lord everything. We decided that when we worked hard without seeing results, that was when we were truly showing the Lord our faith. That is when we were giving a gift to Him.

We worked every day as if we were going to have a baptism that week. For me, that only actually happened once on my mission (my very last week). But I was able to continue hoping and working hard. I knew that if I worked as hard as I could and still exercised my faith even when nothing was working, I would be giving my greatest gift to God. (Also, if nothing's working, try something different! "To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done." Elder Scott)

Being a consecrated missionary all the time, not just when we see the obvious miracles, is how we show love for God. And whether He blesses us with baptisms or not, He will bless us with the miracle of the Atonement in our lives. And He will bless us to be instruments in His hands. And, you certainly are more likely to help people get baptized if you are doing everything you can to make that happen. (As Elder Bednar taught, "Meaningful prayer requires both holy communication and consecrated work.")

Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 2015

     In July we sent these beloved missionaries back to their families--front: Sisters Simmons and Keele, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Elders Wilcox, Ludlow, Quackenbush, and Ellowitt; back: Elders Buckner, Meyer, Dold, Hilton, Gonzalez, Olsen, Coombs, and Loveland.

   


 And welcomed these to our mission family--front: Sister Young, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Peterson and Edwards; middle: Elders Knight, Kidwell, Steiner, Sirrine, Duncan, Samuels, Chance, Thurgood, and Northrup; back: Elders White, Elzey, Lyon, Covington, Rex, Samuelsen, Ozburn, Rippstein, and Meads.

This summer has been unusually warm, but the missionary have taken advantage of the opportunity to talk with many more people who are outside because of it.  The Kent zone marched in the Covington Days parade and help staff a both at the festivities that followed.  Sisters Cauley, Clement, Stewart, Frischknecht, Palmer, Killingsworth, and Lyman are pictured by the tractor.
The parade announcer introduced them this way: 
Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints voluntarily serve God for 18 months to 2 years. You may know them for their signature white shirts and ties, but women serve, too. In addition to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, they serve individuals and organizations in the community, such as Northwest Harvest, up to 10 hours each week. If you have service opportunities for the missionaries, just let them know or stop by our booth at the festival.

          July is interview month.  We have enjoyed meeting with the missionaries one on one.  I have been struck by the many miracles they share with me.  These are occurring in each zone and fill me with the Spirit as they share stories of people showing up at church ready to be taught, approaching the missionaries and asking to hear their message of salvation, and more.  I so wish I had collected their experiences in a miracle notebook, but I didn't notice the pattern until we had met with a couple of zones!

Monday, July 6, 2015

June 2015

     This month is one of specialized trainings.  We held a couple of meetings to help missionaries understand how to use family history to help them fulfill their purpose as missionaries. We also held a special training for those missionaries learning a new language.  For some it is English and others it is Spanish or even Marshallese.  Ultimately, the language all missionaries need to learn is the language of the Spirit.  Preach My Gospel teaches, "The language of the Spirit comes to him who seeks with all his heart to know God and keep His divine commandments."  The group was too large for a picture, but we did get one of the Hermanas.  (Hermanas Edmonds, Singer, Palmer, Killingsworth, Hill, Moretonsen, Baird, Peacock, Soliz, and Leach)


     The Maple Valley zone participated in the Maple Valley Days parade, handing out pass along cards and candy along the way.  Here we see Sisters Davis, Linker, & Lee, Elders Lee-Wen, Bohne, Gonzalez, Clauson, Allen & Brown, Sisters Orr, Webb, and Bailey.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

May 2015

     May was zone conference month.  We talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what an amazing gift it is from the Father.  With that doctrinal backdrop, we discussed how we can find those interested in hearing the good news.  The topic of finding was inspired by training we received from the First Quorum of the Seventy in April.

1) Graham & Puyallup South Zone
2) Role Plays
3) Sisters Lucky and Simmons role play
4) Elders Mathews and Brice
5/6/7) Lunch













   

  Mission Leadership Council--Front: Sisters Kirschner, Walker, Webb, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Clement, Halford, and Hill; Middle: Elders Mathews, Wilcox, Graham, Gamble, Coombs, Mosses, Albrecht, and Ludlow; Back: Elders Olsen, Johnson, Holtry, John, Batchelor, Dold, Anderson, Jenkins, Hilton, and Mousser

   These good missionaries left us on Memorial Day--Front: Elders Johnson & Russell, with Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Kirschner & Sheffer; Back: Elders Wilde, Lund, Barron, Bagley, Newman, Batchelor, Freeman, & Pennington

   

And then we welcomed our 17th group!  Our tent is enlarging and so are our hearts! (Front: Sisters Hollingsworth & Baird, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Edmonds & Nonu; Back: Elders Jiao, Sanders, Pratt, and Rhee)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 2015

     In April we said goodbye to these beloved missionaries--front: Elders Kim & Benton, with Pres. & Sis. Eaton, and Sis. Cass; back: Elders Turney, Benhoff, Dawson, Thomas, Erekson, and Kim.



     We said hello to--front: Elder Clayburn, with Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sisters Cole, Lyman, and McMakin; back: Elders Christiansen & Saydyk, Sisters Worthen and Stewart.

     For this month's update, I've included President Eaton's summary of the training emphasis for the last quarter.

           Before we move on to a new quarterly emphasis in May, I want to pause to reflect on some of the things we’ve learned since zone conference in February.  Few things are as important in missionary work as having the companionship of the Holy Ghost and teaching with the power that brings.  The Lord put it bluntly:  “If you receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).  My prayer is that teaching and being guided by the Spirit will become a lifelong part of your fabric, not just a flash in the pan.

President Eyring taught priesthood holders last week that they have received “the right to speak and to act in the name of God,” but he cautioned, “That right will become a reality only as you receive inspiration from God. . . . The power to speak and act in God’s name requires revelation.”  Such revelation, President Eyring taught, comes when the Holy Ghost is our “constant companion.”  Similarly, all members of the Church have been granted the gift of the Holy Ghost, but receiving the Spirit is another matter.  And all of us have been set apart as full-time missionaries, but only with inspiration from the Holy Ghost can we truly do what we’ve been set apart to do: represent Jesus Christ.

President Eyring taught that receiving the Spirit and the revelation He brings requires much more than a casual interest on our part.  “You will not survive spiritually without the protection of the companionship of the Holy Ghost in your daily life.”  That reminds me of Elder Holland’s probing question:  “Was the Holy Ghost the senior companion today, the junior companion, or was He even in our companionship today?”  I invite you to reflect on what you have learned since last zone conference about inviting the Holy Ghost into your companionships and teaching with the power necessary to help bring about lasting conversions.

            Many of you have learned that the prayer of faith is a crucial part of the price we must pay to receive the Spirit.  As the Lord himself said:  “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:14).  (Note for perfectionists: please don’t feel bad if you cannot yet recognize the promptings of the Spirit as clearly as you would like.  You’re doing great.  Keep studying, praying and teaching, and your ability to recognize promptings will grow little by little, line upon line.)

What does the prayer of faith look like?  Quoting President Joseph F. Smith, President Eyring taught, “You pray that God may recognize you, that he may hear your prayers, and that he may bless you with his Spirit.”  In his own words, President Eyring further described the mentality of someone who offers a prayer of faith:  “It is not a matter so much of which words to use, but it will take some patience. It is an approach to your Heavenly Father with the intent to be recognized by Him personally. He is the God above all, the Father of all, and yet willing to give undivided attention to one of His children.” 

Those words pricked me as I heard them.  Too often my prayers, especially my evening prayers, are rushed and lack focus.  Imagine that you had a chance to speak with your favorite apostle at the end of the day for a few minutes.  How much more focused, respectful, and less hurried would that conversation be than the ones we get to have with the Almighty God?  I have vowed to improve the quality of my prayers—to more fully take advantage of the fact that Heavenly Father himself is granting me his undivided attention.  I am going to seek to pray with greater faith, patience, reverence, and specificity.

In addition to the prayer of faith, we can more fully enjoy the companionship of the Spirit as we study and teach from God’s word.  “Getting that guidance will take more than casual listening and reading,” President Eyring taught.  “You will need to pray and work in faith to put the words of truth down into your heart. . . . The Holy Ghost will be your guide as He reveals truth when you study the words of prophets.”

I am so grateful that so many of you have taken to heart the very specific counsel I felt inspired to give you to study the Book of Mormon daily.  I have asked you to go far beyond casual reading as you basically ask these two questions as you study the Book of Mormon each day:  (1) How can I come more fully unto Christ?  (2) How can I use the principles and doctrines I study to help others more fully come unto Christ?  As you actively search for answers to those questions and record them in some kind of study journal, you are seeking learning by faith.  Your scripture study is becoming more active and less passive and your testimonies are being strengthened. 

As you use the scriptures generally and the Book of Mormon particularly in finding and teaching, you are also discovering that you teach with greater power.  As Elder Wade Johnson wrote me, “I have loved contacting using the Book of Mormon. . . . I wish I would have figured this out sooner. There is no more awkward connecting with no direction, but good questions that lead to powerful points taught in the Book of Mormon!”

            As we have the Spirit with us, we are also able to have greater discernment and inspiration to teach people rather than merely cover material.  We will come to know their true doctrinal needs and be inspired with questions that help them discover those doctrines for themselves.  Recently, I was teaching a young man with two of you.  Based on the investigator’s previous comments, we had assumed his doctrinal need was a willingness to walk in faith.  He seemed to want a clearer answer before committing to baptism, even though he’d already had the Spirit bear witness of Joseph Smith.  But during our lesson, one missionary asked an inspired question: “Which commandment will be most difficult for you to keep?”

            “The law of chastity,” answered the young man, without hesitation.  “I’m 18.”  As we talked, we quickly realized that what had been holding him back from firmly committing to baptism was not wanting a clearer answer.  Instead, it was that he knew he wasn’t ready for baptism because he wasn’t yet living the law of chastity.  After we helped him discover the importance of the law of chastity and the faith to keep it, he then committed to baptism.  That is why, as President Eyring taught, “you will pray for the way to know their hearts, to know what things are amiss in the lives and the hearts of people whom you don’t know well and who are not anxious to have you know them. You will need to know what God would have you do to help them and to do it all, as nearly as you can, feeling God’s love for them.”

            Many of you have discovered that receiving such inspired insights into people’s needs and teaching to those needs requires better planning and a different kind of planning.  There is nothing mechanical about Spirit-led planning.  Instead, as you prayerfully ponder the needs of individual investigators and how to study for them and teach them, planning and companionship study and personal study become revelatory experiences.  Even finding becomes an exercise in inspiration.

            Finally, you may wonder how the doctrine of Christ training fits in with this quarter’s emphasis on the Spirit.  Only as we exercise faith in Christ, repent of our sins, and renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament meaningfully can we fully receive the gospel of the Holy Ghost, which gives us power to endure faithfully to the end.  Without these first three steps that culminate in baptism, neither we nor our investigators can receive the companionship of a member of the Godhead, which prepares us for eternal life with God the Father.

Indeed, the Holy Ghost is not only crucial to our quest to receive eternal life, but enjoying his companionship gives us a small taste of what eternal life will be like.  In 2 Corinthians 5:5, Paul writes that God has “given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”  Many translators render the Greek word translated as “earnest” (like “earnest money”) in the King James Version as down payment or guarantee.  I especially like the Weymouth translation.  In verse 4 of that translation, Paul speaks of our desire to have our mortality “absorbed in Life.”  In verse 5 Paul then adds, “And He who formed us with this very end in view is God, who has given us His Spirit as a pledge and foretaste of that bliss.”

            I testify that as we and those we teach exercise faith in Christ, repent, and make or renew our baptismal covenant, we will enjoy that the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which is, indeed, a foretaste of that bliss that is to come in eternal life.

Friday, April 10, 2015

March 2015

   
We said good-bye to these beloved missionaries on March 2nd--Front: Elders Brown & Peay, with Pres. & Sis. Eaton, and Elder Gardner; Back: Elders Curtis, Cook, Nebeker, Maxwell, Anderson, and Taylor (missing Sister Moore who had to leave early to catch her flight).
     On March 3rd, we were joined by these wonderful missionaries--Sisters Palmer, Williams, Linker, Bailey, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, and Elder Cabrera; Sister Tremmel is in the tree.  Notice anything different about the pictures?  You can tell we had to close some areas to elders and replace them with sisters.


     President Eaton and I regularly send out "blasts" to the missionaries.  These are voice mails sent to all the missionaries by telephone.  Once a week I share an insight I gained from my study of the Book of Mormon to encourage personal study of that marvelous work and wonder.  For this month's blog post, I thought I would include one to illustrate this part of the mission experience.

     In Alma 23 we read about the Lamanites who were converted by some extraordinary missionary efforts.  In verses 16-17 we read about their decision to take on a new name—Anti Nephi Lehis—to distinguish themselves from their brethren the Lamanites.  That got me thinking about opportunities we have to take on new names. 

     New names can help us make changes, to think of ourselves differently.  When I married President Eaton, I took upon me his name, signifying the formation of our new family and our commitment to one another.  At baptism we each took upon ourselves the name of Christ, repenting of our sins and seeking to follow him.  We received a new name when we accepted a mission call.  It seems to me to be sort of an extension of our baptism, but now we are a recognized representative of Jesus Christ and all that we do, say, and even wear should reflect that.  That new name sets us apart and helps us live a higher standard.

     In D&C 130:11 we read about the need to receive a new name to enter the kingdom of God: “And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.”  I feel there is more to it than simply receiving the name.  I think it is in allowing ordinances to change our nature and overcome Satan that we truly receive new names in a spiritual sense.  In Revelation 3:12 we read, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

     My goal is to be with each of you in the kingdom of God one day, to go no more out.  I’m grateful for the new names that I have received that are stepping stones to that destination.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

February 2015

     February began with a temple trip for the second half of the mission.  This first picture is Elders Moon, Curtis, McDowell, Moses, Tima, Berkheimer, Tavo, and Hisita.The second is of Elders Brown, Alcazar, Berkheimer, Chappell, Moses, Buckner, Oliphant, and Anderson with Elders Hisita, Noh, Albrecht, and Nelson in back.


     Our theme for zone conference was the Holy Ghost and His role in our missionary work.  For the next 3 months our district meetings and zone training meetings will relate to this theme.  Elder Holland asks missionaries to ponder, "Was the Holy Ghost the senior companion today, the junior companion, or was He even in our companionship today?" Preach My Gospel teaches missionaries, "Trust the Spirit to guide you in every aspect of your work."

Sister Eaton with Sisters Webb, Flamm, Walker, and Ripplinger

Elders Holtry, Gardner, Anderson, Freeman, Anderson, Holden, Downing, and Jenkins

Elders Downs, Davidson, Gonzalez, Polson, Johnson, and Quackenbush


Elders Brown, Warner, Allen, Herbert, Clauson, and Lemmon

Elders Taliauli, Snyder, Anderton, Cairo, Lee-Wen, and Gonzalez

Sisters Sasagi, Peterson, Loeak, Jeffrey, Wright, and Singer

Elders Nelson, Bakes, Jones, Johnson, Eliason, Quist, and Kim

Singing our thanks to Auburn for our lunch

Elders Noh, Kim, Hisita, Mousser, Cook, Erekson, Berkheimer, and Moses

Sister Davis, Simmons, Gray, Ballard, Walker, Higashi (seamstress), and Nowlin

Celebrating birthdays

Thanking the lunch sisters

Elders Wagstaff, Barron, Smith, Takooa, Thomas, Russell, and Ludlow

Elders Tan, Maxwell, Lappalainen, Olsen, Bennett, Kelly, and Palo

Sisters Hill, Webb, Soliz, Peacock, Heiner, Clement, Halford, and Cauley

Birthday and clean car awards

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January 2015

     Mission Leadership Council this month focused on faith to find investigators (a follow up from Elder Hamula's visit) and working with members. (Front: Sisters Pearson, Flamm, & Ballard, Pres. & Sis. Eaton, Sisters Ah-Hong, Clement, Goaslind, and Heaton; Middle: Elders Gamble, Quackenbush, Wilcox, Eliason, Russell, Gardner, Moses, Meyer, and Ludlow; Back: Elders Tuimaualuga, Freeman, Johnson, Downing, Berkheimer, Erekson, Batchelor, Kim, and Cook)

     We said goodbye to these beloved missionaries--Front: Sisters Goaslind, Carlin, Dubon, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Parry, Ah-Hong, Pearson, and Heaton; Back: Elders Johnson, Tuimaualuga, Grant, and Rogers

     And welcomed these! (Front: Sisters Ketchum, Lucky, Gray, Caulley, and Heiner; Middle: Sisters Oh, Mortensen, Sis. & Pres. Eaton, Sisters Leach, and Wright; Back: Elders Lappaleinen, Fenton, Smith, Takooa, Benton, and Anderson)

     We had a special training for district leaders and a special training for sister training leaders as well.  (Front: Sisters Flamm, Hill, Clement, with Sis. & Pres. Eaton; Back: Sisters Ballard, Walker, and Webb)

     Elder Daniel Johnson of the Seventy called a meeting this month with all stake presidents and bishops in the mission as well as our mission leadership council.  He outlined a protocol where missionaries would meet with members, have a prayer, teach a gospel principle, and then extend the invitation to the member to ponder who the Lord has prepared in their sphere of contact to meet with the missionaries.  Members are then challenged to invite the person who came to mind.  As I sat in with one break out group where missionaries were trying to implement this counsel with the stake president and bishops from their zone, the Spirit was very strong.  President Eaton, with the help of the assistants, also outlined a series of steps to help those who aren't ready for that challenge to take steps in that direction.  The missionaries would serve as consultants for ideas to move along that path, with the end goal to meet Elder Ballard's invitation of having members invite people to meet with missionaries once each quarter (see October 2014 General Conference).

     Another highlight of the month was our annual trip to the Seattle temple!  Half of the mission went in January, and the other half will go the first week in February.  Hopefully I'll be able to post more pictures of these excursions next month. Here's one showing Sisters Peterson, Orr, Frischknecht, Cauley, Halford, Heiner, and Sonasi.